City of Toronto Workers destroy free Community Food Garden amid growing food crisis

Occupy Gardens plants in Queens Park destroyed without harvesting food

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Amid a growing food crisis, on the morning of Friday, September 28, 2012, workers from the City of Toronto were ordered by City of Toronto Parks Director Richard Ubbens to remove all live plants and food from the People's Peas Garden in Queens Park.

occupy_toronto_gardens_destroyed_webThey were ordered to take the plants and food to the dump and lay sod over top of this most beautiful free community food garden, without warning, without a chance to remove the rare heirloom plant species or harvest the food.

The garden was planted by Occupy Gardens and allies on May 1st, in defense of local and global food security. While the garden has been growing undisturbed for nearly 5 months, with the help of hundreds in the community, the city deliberately decided to have it removed upon the eve of the Autumn Jam: A Harvest Party and celebration of sharing, community and free local food, which was going to happen on Saturday from 12-6pm at the garden in Queens Park (northwest section).

The reason? The people did not have permission to grow free food on public land. I come from a city and country where one does not need permission to do the right thing. We are experiencing a "glocal" food crisis, where more and more people are lining up at food banks for kraft dinner and peanut butter, waiting lists for community gardens are growing, food prices rising, and our leaders are nowhere to be seen. Rather they are hiding behind their desk ordering the workers to destroy whatever hope we have left.

We need help sharing this story far and wide.

We will be having our Autumn Jam harvest party/vigil tomorrow as scheduled from 12noon-6pm in the northwest section of Queens Park.

On Monday, September 17, 2012 gardeners had traveled to Ottawa on a Peas Keeping mission for national, global food security, where they planted a free heart-shaped food garden on Parliament Hill, at which point the RCMP stomped on the plants and threatened to arrest people, so the people present removed the plants and relayed the sod.

While it, to an extent, the action of the Parks Authorities are understandable as, in case the same law as in the UK might apply then parks and open spaces are, in fact, not public spaces but are private property, owned by the local authorities, with public access granted and thus the action of the occupiers were and are unlawful.

However, in the UK the ideas have been floated to create – though it has not happened as yet – community gardens in the (public) parks and in some parks in Germany this has, indeed, happened. And in the latter case people are welcomed to help themselves to the food grown for free.

We need more community gardens of this kind where people (in need) can grown and get food for, basically, free, and not have them ripped up.

© 2012